Pirate hackers lead to high shipping losses around South China Sea: AGCS

The region saw 22 losses last year

Last year, there were 85 shipping losses worldwide, an Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty report found. That works out to a three percent decline compared to 2014 and a 45 percent decline compared to 2006.

The South China Sea, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines saw 22 shipping losses, the most of any region.

A big part of that is due to piracy combined with cybersecurity, says Cpt. Andrew Kinsey, a senior marine risk consultant at AGCS in New York.

Organized crime rings can “hack into refinery databases and they know where their order [is].” They find out were oil or gas is being produced and what ship it’s being loaded on, and then use the automatic ship ID information designed to prevent collisions to sit and wait for their prey.

“They can sit at choke points like Raffles Channel coming out of Singapore Straits and pick out the ship that they need, that they want. And follow it, go on a fast boat, over take it, divert it from course and bring along another tanker and siphon off the amount of fuel they want. They disable the communication equipment. They tie up the crew and then they sail off with their vessel and the cargo they want.”

But the most casualties occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (454).

That’s primarily due to weather, which Kinsey says is some of the worst he’s ever been through in his 25 years at sea.

Especially dangerous are microclines. “Whether it be the Bay of Biscay or going from Crete down to the entrance of the Suez Canal in the winter,” Kinsey says, “such violent weather in a very small area can kick up very quickly and with smaller vessels, it can overtake them.”

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